I was in high school when WWJD (What Would Jesus Do?) started. I vaguely remember kids running around with those plastic bracelets. I think by now we can pretty well predict WWJD. The extrapolation is not difficult. Read the Sermon on the Mount. Hell spend a couple of days and read the gospels. Your predictive ability will get better. Spoiler alert: He is on the side of the underdog. The powerful and wealthy, who believe god is on their side, get to swallow a bitter pill when they finally kill him and he rises from the dead. His words were and are scary for the rich and powerful. But really, who is Jesus’s story informing any longer? Is the average Joe thinking, “Jesus would not treat this person like garbage, so I won’t.”? or even higher level, “Jesus said to treat people a certain way. If this policy or person goes against that, I will vote accordingly.”? Not enough. I fear.
So my questions from a few years ago have shifted to What Would You Do? (WWYD). I mean on a daily basis, living our insular lives, mustering kindness or empathy seems more and more removed and our ethical wherewithal and moral moxie are rarely put on the firing line. Maybe it is my world but lately it feels really dog eat dog. We operate in technological myopia. Literally, when was the last time that you were called on to make a morally correct choice that would cost you somehow? Have you ever stopped to consider WWYD?
What am I talking about with WWYD?
Well, first we can mine the past: In your mind’s eye take yourself back to historic times when people were called on to make extraordinary moral decisions. (Of course you cannot know a the cultural influences that acted upon either side. This is an exercise for the you, today…an exercise to mine your own morality.)
WWII, Europe…police (these were law enforcement officers of the state) were taking people out of their homes, people like your neighbors:
Jews, liberals, homosexuals, gypsies, and others. What would you do if cops came to your neighbor’s home, or work, or school and snatched them into custody into a ghetto or camp? What if no Jews or liberals lived in your neighborhood and you really didn’t know any personally but you knew there was this prison camp where they were held about 30 miles south?
What about if you lived in the segregated south? Who are you? Are you the jackass screaming like a lunatic because a group of black kids are going to go to your school? Or, are you the person organizing the marches, standing side by side with your brothers and sisters of color?
When I am sitting here in the morning drinking my coffee I am less concerned about you, (to be real…the collective “you” can be awfully disappointing) Instead, I am struck by personal accountability. What am I doing? Because friends…history doesn’t live somewhere far away, right now you have the very same choice as long ago. The past is today. Her-story is now.